School Views: Ready for a great start to the academic year |

School Views: Ready for a great start to the academic year

Philip Qualman
Valley Voices

If you think summer went by quick, you are not imagining things. Last year, we started school late to finish many significant construction projects, and thus, ended late.

For the 2019-20 school year, we’re back to a regular start time, so the summer was condensed. However, now that we’re back on track the board has approved three years of school calendars, available on, so we’re in a predictable pattern for the near future.

I’m honored and excited to start my first full year as superintendent of Eagle County Schools. I bring 16 years of experience in the district where I have worked as a volunteer, teacher, teacher leader, assistant principal, principal, assistant superintendent, and now, superintendent. My understanding of different roles will help me provide leadership that is inspirational and realistic.

We’re very excited about our district-level focus this year: increasing the cultural competency of our staff and students. During the year, parents and the community will learn more about what this means through opportunities to get involved and participate in the work. In a nutshell, improving our cultural competency increases our abilities to develop authentic relationships with our students, especially when there are cultural differences between teachers and students.

Research indicates, and we all intuitively know, that to reach someone’s mind, you have to reach their heart first. They have to know you care, have good intentions, and are working to help them overcome whatever obstacles may be in their way. Reaching hearts and minds through enhanced cultural understanding is the foundational step to increased achievement.

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To coincide with this training, we’ll be instituting a standardized multi-layered system of supports. Each school has a method of providing these supports already, so our work will be to standardize the approach to accommodate student movement within the district. Importantly, a systems approach to support strives to add instructional support instead of pulling students away from universal learning to receive the help they need.

Throughout the school year, we will share timely information about our progress with both of these initiatives. Parents can help by being enthusiastic about school, the process, and the importance of learning. Ask about school each day. Positive encouragement goes a long way to helping students look forward to going to school, and that is our first goal.

It is a busy time of the year — please make use of our online resources. If you’re new, you can look up which school is your community school through our website.

Registration starts online and ends with an appointment with your school’s registrar (to upload required documents). If you’re returning, we’ll be asking you to complete an Information update so we can contact you quickly when needed. By its very nature, the start of school can be a challenge. Please be patient and understand that all of our staff will work diligently to make the process as smooth as possible.

We live in a unique community — a kind, supportive community that embraces our members and denounces the denigration of others. In that way, we inspire hearts to make this a fantastic year for our students; one that promises to enrich their minds with knowledge, curiosity, and creativity. 

Philip Qualman is the superintendent of Eagle County Schools. He can be reached at

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